In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: William Woodward, “Pass Christian on the Gulf.”
Although painter William Woodward (1859-1939) was born and raised in the quaint town of Seekonk, Massachusetts, he’s perhaps best known for his efforts to use art as a means of preserving the cultural legacy of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Woodward in his autobiography credited his Uncle George with being “the first in the family to develop art tendencies.” Along with his brother, Ellsworth, Woodward became a notable artist with a lasting career.
Woodward undertook studies at the Rhode Island School of Design but also took advantage of opportunities to study in Scotland, England, and Paris while on honeymoon in 1886. It was at the Académie Julian in Paris that Woodward was first exposed to the cutting-edge approach to painting of the Impressionists.
It seems Woodward always had a special place in his heart for the Lower Mississippi Valley, especially the multicultural Vieux Carré. Scholars suggest that Woodward’s views of this French Quarter — bustling with all kinds of densely placed European-style buildings and shops — are among his masterpieces.
Heading to auction via Neil Auction Company in New Orleans is a stunning original from one of America’s leading Impressionists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “Pass Christian on the Gulf” is a medium-sized tour-de-force of color, vitality, movement, and vivid brushwork. Via the auction catalogue: “William Woodward became enamored of the Mississippi Gulf Coast as an artistic destination beginning in 1891. He was clearly inspired by the tropical beauty of the landscape and Gulf waters. He and his family spent time in Ocean Springs, Pass Christian and Biloxi, where Woodward would eventually retire and spend the later years of his life.
The large and masterful painting offered here from 1905 depicts a bright, sunny day in Pass Christian. The alley of live oak trees casts dappled shade along the road, while an African-American figure carrying a sack walks along the sidewalk. A sailboat is visible in the distance on the bright blue Gulf waters.” “Pass Christian on the Gulf” will feature in Neil Auction Company’s July 16 and 17 “Summer Estate Auction.” Estimates for the canvas are between $30,000 and $50,000.
To view the full catalogue, visit Neil Auction Company.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.